New Vocations is a non-profit organization dedicated to rehabilitating and retraining Thoroughbred and Standardbred racehorses after their career on the racetrack. They’re the nation’s largest racehorse adoption program, and it all began right here in Central Ohio. Every year they host a horse show to showcase the Thoroughbred breed and raise money for their adoption efforts. It’s a really fun horse show for a great cause, and we always attend. Our barn takes more horses and riders to this show than any other… which always makes for some crazy adventures, and this year was no exception!
The New Vocations show is four days: schooling on Thursday, jumpers on Friday, and hunters/equitation on both Saturday and Sunday. This year, my trainer was also the course designer, so all the horses hauled up Thursday. I did a short lunge session and a quick flat ride, just to get Miles out and about once he arrived at the show grounds. He hadn’t been ridden since Sunday at the last horse show, and I wanted him see Ring I, which we hadn’t been in yet this year. He was a little bit up and looky, especially on the lunge line, but settled in and finished well. Friday was jumpers, and I hoped to get Miles schooled by the working student in Ring I after the show ended. To our credit, we TRIED to school in Ring I… but it was crazy by the time we got in there. Horses almost collided, people were going every which way, and we just didn’t get anything accomplished. Don’t get me wrong, the working student rode really well and Miles was well-behaved, but there was just too much commotion in the ring to practice much.
The (relative lack) of schooling on Friday left me feeling uncertain, and down on myself. I wanted to see Miles school over the jumps at paced, and that didn’t happen. I wasn’t sure where to go from there, and I felt like I was going backwards in terms of progress. I spent all evening fretting over it all and driving pretty much everyone crazy with my indecision and negative self-talk. In the end, with a push from my trainer and friends, I let it go and accepted where I’m at. Right now, riding and showing is a mental challenge for me, and I’m moving at my own pace. My pace is slow… and that’s okay. I have to embrace where I’m at, and not be so hard on myself, if I ever want to move forward.
Day 1: Saturday
I decided that what I really needed was confidence this year, and to build confidence, I needed to get in the ring. A lot. And that’s what I did at this show. On Saturday I showed in a warm-up, two divisions and a special class. I did the add stride the entire show, because that’s where I felt comfortable… I just didn’t 100% believe I could get the bigger pace, and that’s not a recipe for success. At first, I was disappointed in myself for not having bigger balls and going for it. While I didn’t accomplish that particular goal, I did accomplish a lot of other things… including being competitive with stellar add-stride rounds.
Pre-Child/Adult Hunter (2’6″)
Our first division was Pre-Child/Adult Hunter, with about 8 entries total. We did a warm-up, to get the kinks out and I’m definitely happy we did… as there were some not-so-pretty moments where I chipped in and didn’t stretch up. Whoops! But after that, we had a really nice round where I kept more impulsion, and made better decisions. We did have one quick skip change at the beginning of the course, but that was entirely my fault. Our second round in this division was ‘meh’… with lots of chips. I just wasn’t seeing my distances far enough ahead BUT I still saw something, made a choice, and communicated what I wanted to Miles. In the under saddle Miles was good, but I couldn’t find that sparkle he sometimes gets that helps us pin a bit higher. Overall though I was quite pleased to pin 2nd and 6th over fences, and a 6th on the flat.
JC TIP Intermediate Child/Adult Hunter (2’6″)
I can’t lie, I was super stoked about this division because it pretty much could have also been named the Tracy Beavers and Miles Division. A Thoroughbred-only, 2’6″ child/adult hunter division? HECK YES. These two over fences rounds were when I was extremely glad I’d decided to do so much at this horse show. The divisions are smaller (only two over fences, compared to the four I’m used to), and I’m always concerned about doing too much… but at this show, it was the right time to just get in the ring and go around. I was really happy with both of our rounds in this division, although the first was slightly better (Miles started out fairly grumpy and sucked back in the second trip). We ended up with a 1st and 3rd over fences out of a larger group of 11!
The flat class for this division actually ran first, and it was a bigger class, with 10 in it… all Thoroughbreds. There was definitely a dicey moment where even Miles acted up a bit, but it was just some head shaking, and I fixed it pretty quickly. Other than that one moment, Miles felt pretty good. He still didn’t get that blue ribbon trot that he has, but he did well. Judges either like him or hate him on the flat, and when we don’t put in our best performance, I never expect to do well. So I was happy to get a 6th out of 10. Any time I place in the flat, I’m always happy! I spent so many years knowing I would place dead last, that it’s pretty fun to get any satin in the under saddle.
The highlight of the day was when we got championships results and I was named RESERVE CHAMPION by 1.5 points!! Considering we did the add stride and had some bobbles in all of our classes, I was beyond thrilled. I never expected to be so competitive at this show (or really, any other) until we were able to do the numbers.
Team Hunter Challenge
We finished the day with one final class: the Team Hunter Challenge. In this class, two horse and rider pairs are scored over their choice of a course at 2’3″, 2’6″ or 3′. Each rider of a team can ride a different course and a different height. Your numerical scores are announced and added together for a total team score, and the highest team score wins. Plus, you get to name your team… so naturally since we did this class with our riding bestie, our team was the Chestnut Wonder Twins! Unfortunately, this was by far my worst trip of the day and I scored accordingly low. I think we were both tired, but it was fun to compete with our best friends and we had a blast.